Meals on trains to cost more from next year

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New Delhi: Passengers may soon have to shell out more to buy tea or meals in trains and at stations as the railways is planning to review tariff on food items. According to sources, prices are likely to go up by 30-50 per cent from the last revised rates in 2012. The need for revision was felt to adjust the rates against inflation.

The Railway Board’s Tourism and Catering Directorate has already prepared a revised list and circulated to various finance directorates in the board. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is another reason that has put extra burden on contractors supplying food. So0urces said they had expressed inability to provide quality food to passengers at the existing rates. A GST of five per cent is levied on food served at stations while the tax rate on food served in trains is 18 per cent.

“Since 2012, inflation has raised 6-7 per cent annually on an average and now there’s GST. Hence, a need was felt to review the tariff. The prices are expected to be increased moderately ranging between 30-50 per cent some time in 2018,” said a Railway Board official.

The matter has been discussed during meetings chaired by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.Going by the 2012 tariff chart, railways continues to provide meals at rates much lower than the market price. Tea is served for Rs 7 while veg breakfast, consisting of bread, butter and cutlet, is priced at Rs 30 and non veg breakfast of bread, butter and omelette at Rs 35. Packaged drinking water costs Rs 15 while veg and non-veg thalis are priced at Rs 50 and Rs 55 respectively.

Passengers, however, never get food at these rates as contractors charge way higher than these amounts. The railway receives hundreds of complaints of overcharging for meals, apart from complaints regarding poor quality and less quantity of food served in trains.

The Railways has nearly 800 mobile pantry cars attached to trains and over 300 food contracts are handed over to 50 listed contractors on trains.“For every pantry car, the railway forgoes 75 sleeper berths that would have added to the revenue. We are not even charging passengers on this head,” the source said.

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